Tips for Safe Winter Walking
Snow is beautiful but can make walking treacherous. To safely maneuver in the snow and ice, follow a few simple rules.
- Before walking for exercise in the cold or snowy weather, you should check with your physician first.
- Wear good shoes with excellent grip (e.g., rubber or neoprene composite) and lace up shoes/boots to ensure good traction on less-than-ideal surfaces. Slick leather or plastic soles increase the risk of slipping.
- When getting out of your vehicle, look down at the surface. If it’s coated with ice you might want to park in a different place.
- Use special care when entering or exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support. Before standing, brace yourself with the vehicle door and seat back; this will give you some stability.
- Take short shuffling steps in very icy areas.
- Walk with a friend or "buddy" when possible for safety reasons.
- If sidewalks and walkways are impassable and you have to walk in the street, walk against traffic and close to the curb.
- Wearing dark colors makes it difficult for motorists to see you. Wear a brightly colored scarf or hat or reflective gear, especially if you have to walk in the street. Don't forget gloves and foot gear with non-slip soles.
- Snowdrifts can muffle the sounds of approaching motor vehicles, and hats and scarves that cover your ears can further block these sounds. Keep warm, but dress so that you can hear what's going on around you.
- When bringing your belongings into work, don’t load yourself down with more than you can easily carry so that your balance is not impaired.
- Snow and ice may keep motorists from stopping at traffic signals or slowing down for pedestrians. Before you step off of the curb into the street, make sure that any approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop.
- When walking, curl your toes under and walk as flat-footed as possible.
- Bending your knees a little and taking slower steps can greatly reduce your chances of falling.
- Don't step on uneven surfaces. Avoid curbs with ice on them.
- Place your full attention on walking. Digging in your pocketbook or backpack while walking on ice is dangerous.
- Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
If you are looking to join a year-round walking program, check out the FREE Walk with a Doc program.
This information has been approved by Jeff Downing, MS, RN (November 2013).